The Red Sox needed two things on Friday nightâ€” Josh Beckett to be their stopper and Tampa Bay to hammer Frank Mussina and the Yanks.
At Fenway Park, Josh Beckett became the first American League pitcher and the second ML hurler to notch 13 wins. He did it by putting in six strong innings, allowing only four hits and three runs and striking out a season high 10 against the Chicago White Sox. That ended a Red Sox three-game losing streak, which say the Bronx Bombers pull to within seven games of the division leading Red Sox.
In their last ten, Boston has gone 4- 6. At times their pitching has faltered but it has been their hitting thatâ€™s really gone south. Julio Lugo was asked just before the game what would bring the club out of their slumpâ€”would it be one guy or did the whole team have to explode?
Lugo said that once one of the guys exploded the rest would follow. And so thatâ€™s what happened. The Sox scored 10 runs on 10 hits. Lugo, who had been hitting well below .200 prior to the All-Star break but playing stellar â€œDâ€? at short, has been dynamic since the break ended. In his last seven games, he hitting .481 and last night he went three for four, including a grand slam. Coco Crisp managed a game-winning triple and also got his sixth assist of the season when he threw out Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski when he tried to stretch a single into a double. 10 runs on 10 hits were mighty good for a club that has been low on offense lately.
Meanwhile to the south in the Bronx the Yankees were getting hammered by the Devil Rays 4- 14. Starting pitcher Frank Mussina had been seven and zip versus the Rays but last night in 4 and 2/3 innings he allowed six earned runs on seven hits. In his last 12 starts, Mussina is 2- 6 with four no decisions. His overall record is 4- 7.
Tampa Bay sent four balls out of the park, including two homers for Upton and a grand slam by Navarro. The Rays scored 13 run on 13 hits.
The Red Sox got what they needed on both ends last night. The question isâ€”will July-August run the way it traditionally does for these two clubs? The Yankees surge and take the division and the Red Sox falter and end up in second-place either taking the Wild card or missing the post-season entirely.
The Red Sox have their problemsâ€”Ortiz has a knee and now a shoulder injury, Curt Shilling is on the DL and various other guys such as Varitek, Crisp and Drew have been banged up. The Yankees are getting massive years from Alex Rodriquez and Jeter and Posada has performed well. But despite all of the power, the New York pitching, especially the bullpen, has been suspect.
It should be an interesting late summer and early fall in the AL East. Then again, it usually is.